What does a solo practitioner do?
According to the ABA, nearly 50 percent of all private lawyers in the United States are solo practitioners. Although many have specific areas of expertise, solo practitioners are especially skilled at assimilating new information and skills with every new matter they take on. Solo practice takes a high level of commitment because lawyers must also act as business owners.
What skills do I need to be a solo practitioner?
Having a viable solo practice requires sales and marketing skills as well as legal skills. Solo practitioners must develop clients, engender loyalty and have strong communication skills to keep clients abreast of what is being done for them. Because entrepreneurs do not have the resources of an established law firm, solo practitioners must develop accounting, website, client interface and database management systems. In addition to staying up to date on developing law in their areas of expertise, solo practitioners must find efficient and cost-effective ways to fill knowledge gaps in a practice area. Many blogs offer advice and support to fellow solo practitioners, such as MyShingle.com.
What kinds of jobs are available for solo practitioners?
Solo practitioners often work in a wide range of practice areas, including criminal law, bankruptcy, business law, family law, immigration, personal injury, landlord/tenant law, real estate, and wills and trusts, among many others.
What courses should I take?Law firm Management • Interviewing Negotiating and Counseling • Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic • Bronfein Family Law Clinic • Trial Advocacy • Advanced Trial Advocacy • Attorney Practice Externship (placed with a solo or small firm) • Business Organizations • Bench Trial Advocacy • Mediation Skills • Discovery Practice and Procedure • Litigation Process
What co-curricular and volunteer activities should I consider?
Since solo practitioners can specialize in almost any field, you should actively participate in organizations and bar committees that involve topics that interest you. Also consider taking part in journals or moot court teams that deal with those areas. Take advantage of law school or community events that are relevant and enriching.
Who should I talk to for more information?Michael Spekter, UB adjunct professor and solo practitioner
Outside of UB, you could contact the city and county bar associations for solo practice information. Pat Yevics at the MSBA, has been running the solo small practice CLE for decades, and would also be a good resource.